What Sheila’s seen this week: celebrating learning and teaching, #cetis14 , and the need for handwriting

It’s been a busy old week this week with some very contrasting experiences and perspectives on Higher Education.  I’ve already written about #cetis14, and I’m still catching up with other blog posts, tweets etc about it. Marieke Guy has written an excellent post summarizing both days.  I’ve already posted some of my thoughts from the first day.  In between  #cetis14, I attended a couple of school based learning and teaching events here at GCU.  These annual events give an opportunity for colleagues to share some of the new approaches they have been developing.  It was really inspiring and reassuring to see such good practice in blended learning being celebrated, and some of the bigger questions for education generally (such as developing more open, online approaches) being addressed.

Some of my highlights included getting up close and personal with the very real mannequins being used in Health and Life Science as part of medical training, hearing real stories about how staff were being told what they had been doing for years was actually this new thing called flipped teaching, and how much student collaboration and reflection is being enabled through various mechanisms including our VLE.  Seeing the various ways our staff are developing new and existing ways to encourage our students to reflect, and share and build their own portfolios of learning openly is exciting but it does bring up a number of wider digital literacy issues.

One thing I (and I’m sure many others) have been pondering for a while now is profile management. From an institutional provision point of view, it seems that every system now has a cloud based student profile feature. So which ones, if any,  do we switch on?  From the staff/student point of view, which one(s) is it worth developing?

I know from my own experience I have a number of profiles, most of which are half complete. Take note Facebook, I am never going to fill in what school I went to or complete your profile on me (yes I know why you want that info). My network either know or at this stage in my life don’t care. Some of the ones I took time to populate – and these were work related – are no more. RIP Vizify, I did like you but now you are just a snapshot in time.  LinkedIn, well again I did update about a year ago when my employment status was unclear, but I’m a pretty passive user.  About.me I had forgotten about, but after doing my own visitor and resident online mapping remembered. I like it a lot and in many ways I think it is the closest thing I have to an active personal portfolio.

So if a reasonably digitally literate and tech savvy person like me is a bit fuzzy about my own use of online profiles, how do we support others, particularly our students? Perhaps this is an area where we really can work on some co-creation with students as we are all really just exploring the really effective use of portfolio/profile tools. I know of at least one new course here which is going to be doing exactly that.

I did say this morning that I wasn’t going to write a ranty blog post today, but after a huge twitter uproar (well 4 tweets), I had conceded. So, here comes the mild, ranty bit.  As you’ll know dear reader, I have been experimenting with sketchnoting/visual note taking. I’m enjoying it a lot, it makes me listen and think in a different way. But it is challenging me in terms of visual representation and drawing, and also making me “write” not type on my ipad. Like many people, my handwriting has got increasingly illegible as I tend to type more than write.  @louisegault   pointed me to this report about the use of minecraft in schools and the implication that no-one needs to hand write any more.  Well unless you want people to write like the examples in my notes below, I think we should still be encouraging our children to learn hand write, it is still a skill we need, even if at time it seems we don’t use it that much.


June doodles
some doodles from this week






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